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Autel Robotics Dragonfish VTOL drone has an 18-mile range

The Autel Robotics Dragonfish was first shown publicly back at CES in 2017 as a prototype and has slowly evolved over the last three years. The Dragonfish is now featured on Autel’s website with a maximum flight time of 120 minutes and a maximum video transmission range of 18.6 miles.

Autel Robotics advertises the Dragonfish with the slogan, “Subvert Tradition, Command the future.” The Dragonfish is stated as having a maximum flight time of 120 minutes, an 18.6-mile video transmission range, and the ability to get in the air in under 4 minutes. The drone also boasts a 4k camera with 20x optical zoom and infrared detection from up to 200 meters away.

Dragonfish has a maximum flight speed of 67 miles per hour and is capable of flying in winds of up to 31 miles per hour. The drone has a maximum take-off weight of 17.2 pounds, with 3.3 pounds of that being reserved for payloads. The Dragonfish is also accurate down to one centimeter with a measurement error of one part per million.

The drone from Autel Robotics is focused on public safety, firefighting, energy, traffic management, agricultural, and surveillance applications. It appears the website hasn’t been translated into English correctly just yet as Autel has spelled applications as applycations.

Intelligence and Autonomy

A big selling point for the drone is its intelligence and autonomous capabilities. The Dragonfish can complete a mission and return home automatically, track objects such as a stolen car, circle above a point of interest, fly at a constant height above the ground below, and complete multi-point missions. All of this is possible thanks to advanced algorithms that keep the drone in check and make it easier for the user to fly the drone.

Safety and Redundancy

Looking at the image above, we can see Autel has heavily focused on safety and creating redundant systems to make the Dragonfish as safe as it can. The Dragonfish has two batteries, IMU, barometers, compasses, and GPS RTK modules in case one stopped working, allowing the back up to kick into action. If the drone detects it’s about to stall or can’t continue flying in the current mode, it will change into multirotor mode, which adjusts all the propellers to swivel vertically to mimic a quad-copter.

Control surfaces and devices all have a dual CAN bus communication in case one connection goes bad. The drone also uses AI to continuously check its systems throughout the flight to detect faults before they occur.

Interchangeable Payload System

The Dragonfish currently has three first-party camera payloads and the ability for third-parties to create compatible payloads. The first of the three payloads is a 4k dual-sensor camera with a 4k 20x optical zoom main camera paired with a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera. The second is a triple sensor camera with the 4k 20x optical zoom camera, 48-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a radiometric thermal camera. The final payload option is a multispectral camera with an RGB 48-megapixel wide-angle camera and five 2-megapixel multispectral sensors.

Taking control

To control the Dragonfish, Autel Robotics has created the Autel Voyager software capable of advanced mission planning, intelligent tracking, flight history tracking, and other autonomous features. The company has also created a ground station with a 9.7-inch, 1000 nit display that has antennas capable of the advertised 18.6-mile video transmission range.

Photo: Autel Robotics



Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.